PINNACLE OF THE PARTY PLANNING INDUSTRY
Harriette Rose Katz, dubbed by the Wall Street Journal “the queen of top-of-the-line social,” has been at the pinnacle of the party planning industry for 38 years. She actually stumbled into the business when she discovered she had an innate knack for hospitality while working in the interior design field, running the New York showroom for a Dallas-based furniture company. They asked her to throw a party as part of “Designers Saturday,” in which major showrooms held events to lure people in. Katz told her bosses that they should do it in a big way, or not at all. They gave her carte blanche. This was in the 1970s. “I did a Texas BBQ for a thousand people in the showroom, and it was such a smash. It was just what the whole industry needed. I served chili and gave out little cactus plants to each guest as they left.” In 1978, she says, no one had ever heard of anything like this. Her bosses loved it, and after that, every time they launched a new line, they asked her to throw a party. Her dim-sum parties became the talk of the town. She had them catered by famed chef David Keh, whom she credits with changing the face of Chinese cuisine in America. “David single handedly elevated Chinese food to the elegant and fine cuisine that it is today.”
GOURMET ADVISORY SERVICES
Katz’s “aha” moment came when a colleague called her “an idiot” for doing this for free when she could be making money at it. She immediately asked her husband to register the name “Gourmet Advisory Services,” and by that evening, she had booked her first job, which still amazes her. “Could you believe, I got a phone call from [former shirt label] Huk-A-Poo, and they hired me to do a party?” She feels that it was fate.
Now, her daughter and two nieces help run her busy firm, which organizes every single detail for over one hundred events each year, including weddings, bar mitzvahs, and corporate affairs. Many of her clients are high-profile individuals and Fortune 500 companies, none of whose names she will reveal, citing her need for confidentiality. “My business reputation is everything, and our clients know that they can trust us with anything.”
THE CHOSEN FEW
A little over three years ago, Harriette created the first luxury services collective for the special events industry called The Chosen Few. Members who have been chosen are truly the “best of the best” in their fields: catering and food design, event and floral design, event production, graphic design and fine invitations, lighting, music, photography and cinematography, and tents and structures. All members of The Chosen Few are dedicated to the endless quest of excellence, maintaining and continuing their education in the industry and having protocols in place to ensure those requirements are met. Harriette honors and endorses these talented members for their exceptional creativity, artistic skills, integrity and imagination. Katz states “I think that this industry was really ready for it,” frankly adding that she can’t think of anyone else who could have established the group. She continues, “The Chosen Few is an organization that is harnessing the creative talents across all areas of our industry.”
While Gourmet Advisory Services has done parties all over the United States, the New York region is home base. Now, Katz is considering opening an office in South Florida, where they have an increasing amount of business. She approaches expansion with caution because she recognizes the need to always maintain the highest level of service. “We are only as good as your last party,” exclaimed Katz.
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